How many people from Central Mass. can say NBA great Shaquille O’Neal blocked their layup?

The exploits of Nick Austin, a 23-year-old Southbridge native and working actor, will air during NBC’s coverage of the Olympics for the world to see, in the form of a Carnival Cruise Line commercial.

“It went to national. It’s going to run during the winter Olympics,” Mr. Austin said on the phone from Miami. “It went a lot bigger than I thought. I just had a lot of fun and was thankful to do it.”

A three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP award winner, a one-time NBA MVP award winner and an Olympic Gold medalists with the U.S. Basketball team (in 1996), O’Neal played 19 years in the NBA on six teams (the Orlando Magic, from 1992-96; Los Angeles Lakers, from 1996-2004; Miami Heat, 2004-08; Phoenix Suns, 2008-09; Cleveland Cavaliers, 2009-10; and Boston Celtics, 2010-11).

Widely considered one of the greatest players in NBA history, O’Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

Mr. Austin, a member of Bay Path Regional Vocational High School Class of 2012 who studied masonry as a trade, said he was a fan of Shaq long before he was signed onto the commercial project and is a bigger fan now.

“Shaq was a super nice guy. He just treats you like a normal person and you can talk to him," Mr. Austin said. "He’s just one of the nicest people. And he a great leader, I think too, and role model for people as well.”

Despite not having an acting background, Mr. Austin moved to Miami in November to pursue an acting career and has never looked back.

“I never really did anything, acting wise, in my whole life,” Mr. Austin said. “In my senior year of high school, I got ‘Class Clown,’ a superlative, before I graduated and I was just, kind of, joking, ‘Maybe, I could make a run in acting. ’”

While training to box in a gym in Rhode Island, Mr. Austin got word they were filming “Bleed for This,” a sports bio on former world champion boxer Vinny Paz, and looking for extras.

“It was unpaid. It was free work. But it was a great experience. I met great people,” Mr. Austin said. “I did a lot of extra work, obviously, in the beginning but now I’m into the principal acting. I’ve definitely came a long way .”

Before landing his Carnival cruise commercial opposite the “Kazaam” star, Mr. Austin continued to do some extra work in films (including in the Hollywood blockbuster “Central Intelligence” with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart), in addition to his first principal roles in regional commercials.

Mr. Austin, who’s 6 feet tall, is featured prominently in the Carnival cruise television spot and shares several scenes with the 7-foot-1-inch basketball behemoth.

“I play the boom operator. I had dialogue. It was my biggest role for sure,” Mr. Austin said. “It’s kind of me and Shaq.”

The 30-second spot starts with O’Neal greeting prospective cruise guests with “Welcome to the Carnival 30 minute tour” and Mr. Austin, shining his pearly whites while carrying a boom mike over Shaq’s head, interrupting the NBA legend to say, “Hey, Shaq, it’s a 30-second tour ... And now it’s 26.”

“So, I was nervous and, obviously, it’s Shaq. But then I met him and we just rolled into it,” Mr. Austin said. “Shaq made it pretty easy, because he was just a regular guy. It actually made it a lot more comfortable for me. After a little bit, I kind of, didn’t know I was working with Shaq.”

Mr. Austin said his favorite scene in the commercial is when he slaps Shaq’s hand for trying to steal one of his fries off his plate, giving new meaning to the term “Shaq Attaq.”

“That was funny when he goes to grab my fries,” Mr. Austin said.” We had a lot of fun doing that.”

In their final scene together, Mr. Austin, complete with his cumbersome boom mike in his left hand, is not only playing hoops with Shaq, the basketball superstar blocks a layup from him, and Shaq shrugs, “No time for basketball.”

“Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I mean, I’m not really good at basketball. I gave that up 10 years ago but it was just fun,” Mr. Austin said. “When we did the basketball scene, in between takes, different set-ups, we were shooting around and stuff and just goofing off. Shaq shot one from the three point line and he made it. And, I was like, ‘Double or nothing, you can’t make it again. And, then Shaq hit it again and was like, ‘What do you got?’ And, I was like, ‘I really don’t have anything.’ He just started laughing.”

Mr. Austin said he is focusing 100 percent on his career.

“I actually left everything and came down here,” Mr. Austin said. “I’m actually staying with my uncle right now, who has been a huge supporter and a huge help. So that definitely helps out. I saved some money and all that where I can really just keep pounding the pavement.”

In addition, Mr. Austin said he couldn’t be doing this without the support of his parents and his brother, Zack, a pilot in the U.S. Marines, who he calls his biggest role model.

“I never really thought I would end up really anywhere with acting,” Mr. Austin said. “I just, kind of, went off the cuff, went into it and here I am. So little by little, day by day, it’s getting better for sure.”

As for the future, Mr. Austin said he went on eight auditions in the last week and is waiting for callbacks for several projects in New York.